Russia Diamond Fund Jewelry masterpieces
Today, the unique collection of masterpieces of jewelry of The Diamond Fund of Russia is the subject of the permanent exhibition, which consists of two halls, and divided into seven groups. These groups are – Crown imperial regalia; Signs of Order, Insignia; Jewelry of the XVIII – XIX centuries; Works by craftsmen of the second half of the XX century; Diamonds from Russian deposits; Rare jewelry and ornamental stones; Gold and platinum nuggets. One of the few treasuries in the world the collection features rare precious stones, gold and platinum nuggets of great historic, artistic and scientific importance, as well as great material value. The collection is on a permanent display at the exhibition situated on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin. The Diamond Fund dates back to the time of Peter I.
Peter I, tsar-reformer set up a state form of depositing the most valuable and important objects which included crown regalia in the first place. Only by the monarch’s wish three officials (Cammer-president, cammer-councilor and royal rentmeister), each of whom had a separate key upon assembling together could withdraw the precious objects and hand them to the royal court for solemn ceremonies.
The political importance and a great material value stipulated for secure storage of the symbols of royal power, the main of which were the crown, the orb and the scepter. Later the conditions and rules of storing state regalia began to include other jewels commissioned for the members of the imperial family and purchased by the treasury as gifts and awards. They received the status of state property.
Under each new Russian emperor the regulations of the Cammer department of the Cabinet were amended, but the order of storing and purchasing valuables remained unchanged. But throughout all the time of its existence the treasury which in the later years of the Romanovs’ dynasty became known as the Diamond Room was replenished with rare gems, luxurious jewels, insignia, multiple and various precious stones.
The 20th century changed the fate of the royal treasury. At the start of the First World War in 1914 and a threat for Petersburg the valuables of the Diamond Room were rushed to Moscow among others and placed in the storage rooms of the Armory. There they stayed until January 1922 when a commission for expertise and selection of the valuables was set up to determine their further fate. As a result of the commission’s work many items were transferred to various Russian museums.
The imperial regalia and crown diamonds were transferred to the Gokhran which was set up in 1920 to register and store the valuables and which eventually became a successor to the royal treasury. At the same time these valuables were defined as the Russian Diamond Fund.
In 1925 the crown jewels were first exhibited in public in the House of Soviets and in 1927 and 1933 a considerable part of them were sold by foreign auctions by the decision of the Soviet of the People’s Commissars. The remaining valuables as having the greatest historic and artistic value made the basis of the exhibition of the Diamond Fund organized to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Soviet state.
The exhibition was planned to work for a year. But the interest it aroused among the compatriots and foreign tourists was so great that the government decided to make it permanent. Since the exhibition started functioning it has been replenished by many new objects. Among them there are perfect diamonds which began to arrive upon discovering deposits on the territory of the USSR, the rarest samples of gold and platinum nuggets.
In the 1970-es an experimental jewelry laboratory began working in the Gokhran. In this laboratory craftsmen Vladimir Sitnikov, Victor Nikolayev, Boris Ivanov, Vladimir Zhilin, Gennady Aleksahin restored the most unique valuables: the Grand Imperial crown which began breaking down under the pressure of red spinel, the Small Imperial crown and practically all the masterpieces of jewelry which belonged to the imperial family.
Lost diadems and other jewels were restored with the help of pictures. More than a hundred of modern items – wonderful jewels made by these craftsmen of the laboratory – replenished the exposition of the Diamond Fund.